The hardest part of getting into a job field is landing that first job. Every entry-level job wants someone with experience, but no job wants to give you experience. Here are 10 tips to help get you around this.
Research Current Job Requirements
Find out what the market is looking for. See what required and suggested skills job listing are putting on websites such as Linkedin, Monster, and Indeed. This could be certain programming languages, proficiency in tools, and overall personal qualities.
2. Alter Your Resume And Cover Letter Accordingly
After now seeing what jobs want, alter your resume to fit the specific needs of the job you are applying for. If a job states they want someone who knows Java or C++, make sure one of the first things cited on your resume is Java or C++. Companies filter through thousands of applications a day. If your qualifications are hidden elsewhere in your resume it is easier for a potential client to skim over your resume and skip this information.
3. Do Internships(Preferably Paid)
Internships are a great way for you to get real-life experience in the field. Whether it's for 3 months or a year, that is enough to separate you from another candidate who has no real-world experience at all. In a perfect world you would want a paid internship, but even just volunteering at a local company a couple of hours a week is enough to make a difference. Don’t focus right now on the money but more on the experience.
4. Take Courses
If every job posting says they want someone who knows how to use Postman, then go out of your way to learn how to use it. You can watch hundreds of videos for free on places like Youtube to educate you on almost anything in the field. Then practice applying the information and then add it to your resume. You may also want to take courses to stay up to date with best practices. Being able to knowledgeably talk about information is very important and in our ever-changing field, you can never know too much about a given subject. Also, this shows to potential jobs your willingness to learn.
5. Do Side Projects
Experience can come in many different forms. If a job states they want an applicant who has experience using Jira you can cater a side project that focuses on just that. You can use websites like Fiver and UpWork where clients will contract you for specific projects. The projects may only last a couple of weeks but this is still a great experience to separate you from other candidates with no experience at all.
6. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile should be a direct reflection of your resume, so make sure you are keeping it up to date. Also, make sure you have specific keywords listed like “full stack” or “front end” if you are a developer. Many jobs filter through profiles just for the keywords. Also, use LinkedIn to network. Add everyone you know and people you don’t know because they may also know a job that would be a good fit for you, and it doesn’t hurt to build relationships in general.
Try to find a recruiter or two. You are not married to a recruiter and their only job is to find a job that fits you. You will never have to pay a recruiter directly,m usually the job that you are placed at would give them a kickback. It’s a win-win for everyone so you really have nothing to lose. Any job that you don’t like you can simply just turn down.
7. Mass Apply
There is a good chance that the first job you take in the field will not be your forever job for the next 30 years. It is more important to just get your foot in the door. If you have a 1/10 chance of getting a job and you only apply to 10 jobs, you may only get an offer from 1. However, with this same logic, if you applied to 100, you may get 10 offers and then have options to chose from. Don’t be afraid to not put all of your eggs in 1 basket. This is especially important because some jobs take a while to even respond to your initial application and you don’t want to wait around forever missing other opportunities.
8. Perfect Or Just Best Fit?
Don’t think you have to meet every part of the job requirements you are applying for. You don’t have to be the perfect fit for the role, just the best option at the given time of the hiring. I usually go by fitting at least 70% of the requirements as a general baseline. If no one ever applies to the job because they aren't the perfect fit and then you apply and meet most of the requirements, there is a good chance that they will take you. Just show an openness to learning the other 30% on the job.
9. Don’t Be Afraid of Rejection
You will most likely get a lot of rejection responses when first applying to jobs in your field. This is normal, get used to it. This is also another reason why you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in 1 basket. It is all a numbers game. The job that is a fit for you to start at might be the 50th job you applied to. But if you gave up on applying after the first few rejection responses, you would never have had the opportunity to interact with the 50th job.
10. Something Is Better Than Nothing
As stated before you most likely will not get your dream job as your first job. Once you have your foot in the door with real-world experience it is then easier to move to get your actual dream job. You will now have that “experience” that every job requires. Also in general in this field, many people switch jobs every 2–3 years to explore new opportunities for growth and financial gains.
Your first job may be far from ideal, but as long as it’s not toxic and is not negatively affecting you mentally or physically try to stick with it for at least 6 months. The temporary sacrifice will be worth it in the long run and can be used as leverage. When a job looks to hire you someone who has been working in the field for the past 6months compared to someone else who has just been sitting at home the past 6 months, who do you think they will prefer?